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Sam Howell Presser: “I need to do a better job of just getting down and sliding and protecting myself.”

Sam Howell speaks to the media before practice

Sam Howell spoke to the media before the Washington Commanders hit the fields of Ashburn for their first full practice since losing to the Chicago Bears last Thursday night. He said he needs to work on protecting himself better, and that includes getting down, and getting rid of the ball to avoid unnecessary hits. Howell is the most-sacked QB in the NFL, and he is on pace to shatter the season sacks record if this continues.

Howell said the offense has done a lot of good things despite the team losing their last three games. He said they can move the ball on anybody, but acknowledged that’s harder to do on some defenses.

Howell was asked about sitting for most of his rookie season(and only playing in the final game). He said that every QB wants to play when they get into the NFL, but it’s probably better to be able to sit and learn for your first year. Howell said this allows you to learn how to prepare in the NFL, how NFL defenses look and work, and soaking up information on your team’s offense throughout the year. He did not that he lost some of that advantage because the team switched OCs from Scott Turner to Eric Bieniemy which meant learning a new system in year 2.

Sam Howell

Unnecessary hits:

Yeah, I think the main thing is when I run the ball, I need to do a better job of just getting down and sliding and protecting myself. I think I’ve taken a lot of unnecessary hits and that’s just something that I just got to kind of change in my mentality. Just because when I’m out on the field, I just want to win but at the same time I got to take care of myself and make sure I can protect my body and make sure I can make it through the season. Then just as far as the sacks go, I just got to do a better job of just finding incompletions. When stuff isn’t there, don’t try to hold onto the ball or extend the play, just try to find incompletions and I feel like that’s something that I’m continuing to work on each and every week. That’s something that’ll only get better.

Challenges to changing mentality on running the football:

Yeah, I mean, at times, especially later in the game and fourth quarter and stuff like that when the game is more on the line. But I think there’s definitely a time and place for my aggressive mentality as far as running the football. But I think for the most part, I just want to protect myself. I mean, I’m not running anybody over in the NFL anyways, you know what I’m saying? So just try to do a better job of just try and protect myself and just move on to the next play.

Advice from inside/outside the building:

I would say for the most part it’s mostly just from people in this building that I really listen to. As far as my quarterback coach, Tavita does a tremendous job. Just the way he is able to give me feedback and the way he’s able to communicate kind of how I’m doing and what he thinks I can do better. He’s done a great job of that stuff. I would say it’s mainly just from people in this building. I always just rely on my dad as well, just because he’s a coach and he kind of knows what it’s like to go through stuff. Definitely, I would probably say my dad. But football wise and X’s and O’s wise, it’s mainly the people in this building.

Desmond Ridder:

Yeah Desmond, I really didn’t know him until the draft process and then obviously those couple months when we were kind of all going through the same stuff and seeing each other everywhere, we got to know each other a little bit. We don’t really talk a whole lot on a weekly basis or so, but it’ll be fun to play against him. I’m glad to see he’s kind of earned that role over there and they’re having some success, so it’s fun to watch. He’s a great dude and great player, so it’ll be a fun matchup.


I just think as an offense, we’ve done a lot of good things. Obviously, our record is what it is but I think we’ve shown that we can move the ball on anybody. I think that’s our mentality on offense and we know what we’re capable of. I feel like me personally, I’ve played some good ball at times and I think just continuing to build on what I’ve done good and learn from what I haven’t done as good. I think there’s been times where I’ve been really decisive, the ball’s coming out fast and when that’s happening, our offense is pretty good. So, just trying to continue to work on that and continue to try and do that each and every week.

Obviously, it’s harder for some defenses than others but yeah, just continuing to build on the things that have worked for us so far. I feel like we’ve moved the ball on everybody. It’s just a matter of not shooting ourselves in the foot, not having sacks, not having penalties, just things that slow us down. So yeah, we’re definitely capable of putting a lot of points up every single week. It’s just a matter of us doing the right things and focusing on the details each and every week.

Back at practice:

We’re excited to be back. Obviously had a few days off, we’re past the Chicago game and obviously wasn’t the performance we wanted to have, but we’re moving on. We still have 12 games to play and we feel really good about our chances moving forward and in this building we know what we’re capable of as a team. What’s behind us is behind us. We’re looking straight ahead and we’re looking forward to this game Sunday against Atlanta, against a good opponent, a really good defense. We got to have a good week of preparation and we’re excited.

Sitting his first year:

I think every quarterback that comes into the league is going to want to play and want to play early. But I think if you get the opportunity to sit a year, I think that first year you’re playing will definitely be better than if you just played as a rookie. Just because you have a year of experience as far as just learning what it’s like and learning kind of how defense is played in the NFL and learn how a gameplan is put in. I think especially if you can be in the same offense for those two years, I think that that’s a big part of it as well. You know, unfortunately for me, I had to learn a new offense and so that kind of took a little bit of the learning away from that first year but as far as just going through the experience and seeing what a game week is like, and then just like I said earlier, just knowing what defenses like to do in the NFL, it definitely helps you out. You have all that learning before you even play, rather than when you have to go in and play early, you’re kind of learning on the field and learning on the fly and you’re probably making a few more mistakes that you wouldn’t make if you had that year under your belt.

Taylor Heinicke:

Taylor’s the best. Just being here with Taylor and just getting to learn from him, obviously last year was crazy with how everything kind of went down. Just seeing how he is as a person on a daily basis and he’s such a good teammate, such a good guy, and everybody loves him. Just seeing how he goes about his life and how he goes about his job and playing the position, definitely learned so much from him. He was just always someone that was so willing to help me learn. It was definitely a fun time and he’s a great dude. We still talk every now and then, so it’ll be fun to see him before the game.

Brian Robinson:

BRob’s awesome. He’s a great dude and he is a guy obviously I watched in college some when he was playing in Alabama. My running back coach at North Carolina, he went to Alabama for BRob’s last year. I kind of knew him a little bit through him. BRob’s been awesome. He works so hard and he cares, he cares about his job and he cares about his teammates. It’s so much fun to play with him just because you know how bad he wants to win. I think we’ve all seen when he’s going it’s hard to stop him. We got to continue to get him involved and continue to try to get him going in the running game. I think when we have all that stuff working, we’re hard to stop.

Having the most drop backs in the NFL this season:

I don’t really think about it. Obviously, I think we’ve been in some situations where we’ve been down more than we’d like to be down, so that’s probably why that number is what it is. It is what it is. Obviously, we got to do a better job of starting faster and not putting ourselves in those situations. We want to take command of each and every game that we play and you don’t want to be down and trying to fight back. But at the same time, I think we’ve learned a lot from it. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of reps at our concepts and a lot of throws. I think there’s definitely something that can be learned from it, but it’s definitely not the situation we want to be in on a weekly basis.

Getting extra reps in score neutral situations:

For sure. I think just the way we call this offense and the way this offense is ran we definitely like to throw the ball. I think when you look at the guys we have on this team and you want to get the ball to those receivers and so we got to continue to get those guys more involved. I would say yeah, definitely the amount of passes we’ve called has definitely helped me as far as my learning and my progression. There’s nothing better than real live game reps. I would say yeah.

Balancing getting Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson the ball more vs running the offense as designed:

I’m always going to run the offense as it’s designed. Obviously, there’s times and places where you can kind of, I don’t want to say force it, but maybe give a guy an extra look. At the end of the day, I’m going to do my job of how I’m taught to go through my progression. We’ll just continue from a game planning standpoint to get those guys more involved. Obviously, we’d like to get everybody the ball more. We have so many great players and I think part of this offense and why it’s so good is it spreads the ball around. But at the same time there’s got to be a good balance of spreading the ball around and using your best players. It’s definitely something that we will continue to try to do a better job of moving forward.

Does the Falcons defense playing well but not generating sacks affect their gameplan?:

I mean, not really. We kind of know what they like to do on defense and they’re a really good defense and they haven’t given up a lot of points. Teams have struggled moving the ball on them. They have really solid players all around. We know our game plan. We’re still kind of putting that together, obviously have a good base down game plan in right now, but we don’t really look at sack numbers or anything like that. Some games you’ll look at personnel and kind of game plan off that. But for the most part, you kind of look at the coverages that they like to run and you know what fronts they run and that’s kind of how you game plan.